She came in with her parents, they found a table at a very busy food court. She was carrying her lunch, they got her seated and then left, each in a different direction. She slowly tucked into her lunch occasionally glancing around her. I'm terrible with ages but I'd guess that she'd be between 8 and 10. She attempted to make no contact or conversation with anyone, she simply quietly ate and looked around.
She was cute as hell, Down Syndrome and all.
I didn't notice her at first. Joe kept glancing off in her direction and finally I asked what he was looking at. He was reluctant to say but finally said, "A couple has left their daughter with Down Syndrome alone at at table. They've been gone awhile now." That was when I turned to see her.
We both agreed that we didn't know how to 'see' what we were seeing. We don't have kids, haven't raised kids, and have never taken kids to a food court. So, I want your help with the following questions ...
at what age is it ok to leave a typical child alone in a food court
if she is skillful, like this little girl seemed to be, is it ok for a child with a disability to be left alone so young
OK, I know the world is dangerous, but I also know that paranoia isn't a healthy way to live your life. Or, is it? A wee bit of paranoia surely can't be a bad thing. After all, WE noticed her there alone, so ... wouldn't a preditor have noticed the same thing.
how do you determine when it's ok for your child to experience and experiment with independence
how do you cope with your own fears ... she wasn't our child and we were sweating
So, I'm in the air today flying home from Vancouver, I'm going to be thinking about these things all the way home. I'll be curious to compare notes with you all on my return.